One man's actions causes the loss of freedom for many as the district tightens security.
An imposter walked into Manchester Schools on Aug. 25, but because of vigilant school personnel and fast-paced detective work by the New Franklin Police Department, Stow resident, Ryan Worlow, found himself behind bars.
Worlow, a 21-year old Manchester alum, entered the schools wearing a full sheriff deputy’s uniform. School officials became suspicious and notified NFPD and within four hours, New Franklin had him in custody without incident. (See page 4 for complete article.)
Superintendent Sam Reynolds explained the administration had to make decisions. “We were trying to decide if we would be open on Wednesday. If they did not apprehend him, we would not have had school. We needed to know where he was. The most important thing was the safety of the kids.”
Reynolds is not sure why Worlow did this. “We do not know his intent, but he could have done harm. An alerted staff member caught it, pursued it, and didn’t let it go. By the end of the day, he was arrested.”
Reynolds credits the police. “New Franklin did a great job. They contacted me. We had to wait and see if there was evidence in the home. When we knew about the evidence, we knew that the kids were safe.”
Parents are angry. “I’m getting calls. They are mad at me,” Reynolds stated. “They have good reason to be angry. I’m angry too. He invaded what I consider sacred.”
Manchester always had an open door policy. “He was welcome here. People were happy that he had found some success because he was a sheriff’s deputy,” Reynolds explained. “He fooled a lot of people.”
Worlow has been seen in the sheriff deputy’s uniform at other venues. “He was impersonating a sheriff deputy at the (local) McDonalds prior to this,” Reynolds recently discovered.”
“I really resent this,” Reynolds angrily stated. “I resent this because we were an Excellent with Distinction. That was our whole theme this year.”
He is hopeful. “We will get through this. The reality is, nobody was hurt.”
Reynolds believes that they are a learning institution that will learn and make adjustments. “A safety plan always has to be a changing instrument. This event will cause a cultural change in the schools. Everyone will feel it.”
Administration will meet with parents, next week, and decisions will be made. “The question is, “What do families want?‘ They will have to help me determine the extent of the change. How tight do they want it? Where is the line between prison and school?”
Reynolds believes school is much more than academics. “Learning is much more complicated than some test coming from the state of Ohio. Without safety, you don’t have learning. You have to have a safe environment. Research shows that if children are filled with anxiety when they go to school, they wont learn as well.”
Page 2 of 2 - A fear was brought into the school system that wasn‘t there before. “(Worlow) might not ever realize the damage he’s done,” Reynolds sadly stated. “We live in a democracy, and we have great freedoms because of it,” he added, “but what goes with that is a sense of morality. Teddy Roosevelt said that a person who is intelligent without morals is a menace.”
School officials met all week, after the event, reviewing and changing safety procedures. “We have had to act pretty quickly on having a camera and a buzz-in system on every door,” Reynolds explained. “Phase one is buzzing in. Phase two is everybody in the district, including me, will have a picture ID. Visitors will be directed to the office to get a visitor patch. They will have to say who they are and what their purpose is for being there.”
The whole situation is causing a mistrust. “We need to think about the people who bring the milk, the produce or the mail. The days when you could come and visit a teacher are gone,” Reynolds stated. “You will have to make an appointment to do that.”
The district has met with grades 5-12, but they are being very cautious with how they handle the lower grades. “It is hard for us, as adults, to understand what went on in his mind,” Reynolds stated, “Trying to explain that to little ones would just confuse them.”
“Who would have ever imagined that this could happen? He was one of our own.” the administrator stated, shaking his head.
Reynolds is thankful that the district was saved from a possible, very tragic, event. “I believe that God had his hand on this situation and His care for His children.”
Police have been patrolling all schools since the incident occurred. “I am being extra cautious right now, “Reynolds stated. “The caution will continue.”
Manchester Local Schools will hold school safety meetings for school parents next week. The meetings are scheduled as follows:
- Nolley Elementary, Sept. 2, 7 to 8:30 p.m. gym
- Manchester Middle, Sept. 3, 7 to 8:30 p.m. gym
- Manchester High, Sept 4, 7- 8:30 p.m., Rm. 114
- The purpose of the meetings will be to discuss the recent impersonation of a deputy sheriff situation, review safety procedure changes, and hear participants’ questions.